Introverts and physical affection {Quote of the Week}

Do you rarely hug others? Do you feel uncomfortable kissing or holding hands with your significant other in public? It may be because you’re an introvert.

In her book, The Introvert and Extrovert in Love: Making It Work When Opposites Attract, Dr. Marti Olsen Laney explains that introverts often have a complicated relationship with physical intimacy. Although there are times when introverts enjoy the rush of physical affection, other times, when they are drained or tired, touch can feel invasive and overstimulating. On the other hand, extroverts gain energy when they are close to others, so physical contact with their partner is a pick-me-up. These differences can cause problems for introvert-extrovert couples, Dr. Laney explains:

Wooing and romance preserve strong bonds and act as a buffer against the routine annoyances of everyday life. Physical intimacy is an important way to keep the fires of love burning. And this can be a challenging area for an innie-outie pair. Innies are territorial and lose energy when others are physically close to them. Therefore, they are often slow to let others into their space. They may not be as physically demonstrative as an outie, but when they are well fueled they may enjoy touching more. Outies gain energy when they are close to others, and so they usually enjoy more physical closeness and touching than innies do.

If your needs for physical affection are different from your partner’s, it’s crucial that the two of you discuss your differences openly, Dr. Laney advises. Find a way to meet both of your separate needs — this is essential to maintaining that special connection with each other.

Jenn Granneman is the founder of IntrovertDear.com and the author of The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World. She also cohosts The Introvert, Dear Podcast and blogs for Psychology Today. For most of her life, Jenn felt weird, different, and out of place because of her quiet ways. She writes about introversion because she doesn’t want other introverts to feel the way she did.